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TU Berlin

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AFM laboratory


Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) is a type of scanning probe microscopy with a high three dimensional resolution in the order of nanometres. The technique can be used in vacuum, gaseous or liquid environments and temperature can be controlled if a control unit exists. It is one of the most widely used instruments to study the interactions between two surfaces and for surface imaging in nanoscale. In principle, it can measure every surface with a force measurement range of 10-12 to 10-4 N  and a lateral resolution up to 10-12 m [1].

The central unit of an AFM is a flexible cantilever with a probe at its end. In the scanning probe AFM, the probe is a sharp tip with a radius of curvature around 5 - 50 nm. Force measurements are mostly performed with a micron scale spherical colloidal probe attached on the cantilever [2]. The flexible cantilever is bent depending on the interactions between the probe and the surface. The principle of the AFM exactly lies behind monitoring this bending. It is done by collecting the deflection of a laser beam reflected from the top of the cantilever.

Our lab specialises both on force measurements and scanning in air and liquid medium. We operate two Asylum Research MFP3Ds (one with a coupled fluorescence microscope), an Asylum Research Cypher and a JPK NanoWizard II.

[1] Butt, H.; Cappella, B. & Kappl, M. Surf. Sci. Rep. 2005, 59, 1-152
[2] Ducker, W.; Senden, T. & Pashley, R. Nature 1991, 353, 239-241

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